Before I get into the reason why I am writing this article here today, you have to understand the current situation and state of affairs leading up to this moment in time. In 2001 the United States of America invaded Afghanistan in retaliation for the terror attacks of September 11th, as well as to combat Osama Bin Lad and remove the Taliban’s influence from political power in the country. Those were the so called “Primary Objectives” of the War effort in the first place – at least publicly.
I say this because upon landing in the country for the first time in November 2001, the first thing that then Brigadier General and now US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said upon stepping off his helicopter and onto Afghan soil was “the United States now officially owns a piece of Afghanistan” – something that Mattis was later forced to apologize for in front of Congress years after the fact. I bring this up because, in terms of the “Bigger Picture,” you need to start thinking in terms of geography and how this relates to military strategy. For example, do you notice how Iran is sandwiched on either side by Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you think it was any coincidence that within a two year time period the US invaded and establish permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan?
While Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein may have been convenient excuses to originally invade these countries, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were also extremely “tactical” in terms of long term War strategy. For many decades running now, Iran has been one of the United States and Israel’s single larges threats. 17 years after the invasions of 2001, the US has now cemented permanent military presences lining/flanking Iran’s Eastern and Western borders – we have them surrounded. Especially considering that the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still ongoing with no foreseeable end in sight, this is why I have always maintained that Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were never truly the US’s primary objectives in the first place, they were merely excuses/opportunities.
If you want any more proof of this, look no further than the current state of affairs inside Afghanistan. Despite the US military spending 10x more than any other country on Earth annually, the Taliban has only increased territory, funding and revenue since 2001. By now, it is well known fact that Afghanistan produces over 93% of the worlds opium poppy harvest. However, did you know that according to the Afghan Ministry of Counter Nacrotics, in 2017 the Taliban now controls 271% more farmland than they did in 2002? How about the fact that, according to the Russian Federal Drug Control Center, as of 2016 the Taliban had started making over $1 billion dollars annually from the sale of heroine to ISIS alone? How about the fact that, according to the United Nations Security Council, as of 2017 the Taliban was making upwards of $50 billion from the sale of heroine across Europe? Did I mention that according to the US Center for Disease Control heroine related deaths in the United States have spiked over 600% since 2001?
Honestly, if the Taliban truly were the US’s primary objective for this War, do you really think any of this would be happening?
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) April 12, 2017
With that established, lets start breaking down the history of US military involvement inside Afghanistan – shall we? While it can never be entirely proved or refuted, what we do know is that the United States Government, mainly the Central Intelligence Agency, did support/fund Osama Bin Laden back in the day – throughout the late 1970’s and into the 80’s. This was also done to counter-act Soviet involvement/influence in the country throughout the course of the Cold War. While Bin Laden may not have ever ‘been on the CIA payroll,‘ the US did fund him for quite a long time, nearly identical in nature to what the CIA did under President Barack Obama with the Syrian rebels throughout the course of his Presidency.
If you need any more proof of this, look no further than Donald Trumps decision to drop the “Mother of All Bombs” inside Afghanistan on April 13th 2017. Ask yourself, why do you think he decided to drop the bomb at that strategic location, essentially in the middle of nowhere? Any guess?……
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 14, 2017
Moving onto to 2018, Donald Trump is on public record as stating that he has no intentions of ending the War in Afghanistan any time soon. In fact, Trump has only committed thousands of more troops into the country since first taking office in 2016, with threats to add up to 4,000 more in the future. Perhaps more importantly, Trump has also stated that US soldiers need to experience a “victory” in Afghanistan before we retreat or withdraw, as to “justify” or “honor” all of the lives lost in the conflict over the years – admitting defeat in this War is not an option for this President. Somewhat similarly, did you know that the same month President Obama “won” the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 he committed +30,000 troops into Afghanistan? #FunFactofTheDay #Irony
With that established, lets take a look at the current state of affairs inside Afghanistan and the effects decades of War has had on the civilians living in the country. Despite 15 years of War at that point, 2016 saw the highest amount of civilian causalities inside Afghanistan than in any year prior. While the figures did decline, 2017 still saw the second highest rate of civilian causalities of any year since 2001. Quite literally, the longer the US has stayed involved in this conflict, the worse things have gotten and the more people continue to die. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what a successful War strategy should look like? Welcome to the “Quagmire.”
Ending with the reason why I decided to write this article here today, perhaps most troubling of all, on December 5th 2018, following the success of the Afghanistan Peace Conference in Moscow last month, news officially broke that the Government of Afghanistan had officially sent an offer to Taliban leaders, inviting them to the negotiating table to begin editing/drafting a new Constitution governing the country headed into the future. In statements to RIA Novisti, according to Ehsan Taheri, spokesman for Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, “the talks in Moscow marked the first time the Taliban has publicly appeared in the international arena since they were removed from power in Afghanistan following the US-led invasion in 2001. The meeting, brokered by Russian diplomats, helped pave the way for a future dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban,” Taheri said. Adding that there will be “no preconditions” for Taliban’s input in the negotiations when the time comes.
Considering that the Taliban was in control of 70-75% of Afghanistan at the time of the US invasion of 2001, and that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qeada then joined forces with the Taliban to fight the US influence shortly thereafter, and the three sides have been at War with one another ever since, for obvious reasons, it is extremely troubling to now see the Afghanistan Government, which the United States helped put in place, reaching out the Taliban to begin negotiating an alliance/partnership headed into the future. Tens of thousands of deaths later, with millions more displaced displaced by the violence and trillions of dollars spent, 17 years into the conflict now, we are essentially right back where we started on day 1. So, what the hell is the US even still doing Afghanistan and what exactly is their path to so-called victory there?
Unfortunately, the US never set out to “win” this War in the first place, which is why we continue to fight a “War of Attrition” on through today. The US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan were nothing more than strategic/tactical planning as part of a much broader, long-term War strategy/initiative for the Middle East – gaining control of critical assets and infrastructure, including oil fields, lithium mines and natural gas reserve’s, whilst simultaneously setting up permanent military bases flanking Iran’s Eastern and Western borders. In doing so, also cutting of Russian influence inside the region. Tragically, the humanitarian disaster and conditions as they have existed inside Afghanistan and Iraq since the end of 2001 are merely just “Collateral Damage” in the implementation of this strategy.
That’s only a small part of whats ‘in my head‘ as I sit here today…..